Sheffield Hallam's English Literature cancellation 'unconnected' to Government crackdown

Higher Education Minister Michelle Donelan has insisted the controversial cancellation of Sheffield Hallam University’s English Literature degree is unconnected to Government reforms which will see institutions face financial penalties for poor quality courses.

The university is to stop offering a standalone English Literature degree from next year in favour of a broader English degree. No job losses are planned.

Details of the Sheffield Hallam decision emerged after Mary Peace, a senior lecturer in English Literature at the university, revealed the plan on Twitter on Saturday with a post that went viral.

The decision, which comes amidst planned cuts to arts and humanities departments at several other universities around the country, has led to criticism from the likes of Sherwood writer James Graham and author Anthony Horowitz.

Sheffield Hallam University is ending its standalone English Literature course.

There have been concerns that course changes and job cuts at different institutions are linked to Government plans to fine universities for degrees where not enough students go on to professional employment or further study within 15 months of graduation.

But Ms Donelan said it was “completely false” to suggest this was the case at Sheffield Hallam.

Writing in The Times, she said: “The claims that Sheffield Hallam’s decision to make changes to their English literature provision from 2023 relates to the proposals on quality, appear to stem from a single tweet by one academic, unsubstantiated by evidence.

“Their English department’s outcomes are well above these minimum thresholds – as is the case for most English courses.

Higher Education Minister Michelle Donelan says it is wrong to suggest the Sheffield Hallam decision is connected to Government reforms.

“In fact, the Vice-Chancellor has assured me that our quality proposals have nothing do with this decision, and that instead the course is being refreshed as part of a broader English Degree in order to provide students the opportunity to study language, literature and writing in a single degree.

“We actively support universities adjusting their offer in response to student and employer demand, which they do regularly.”

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor, said: “Our relatively modest portfolio revision has been conflated with a broader national concern about the government’s attitude to the arts and humanities.”

He added: “We have made some changes to our English literature provision from 2023.

“It will remain part of a broad-based English degree which features language, literature and creative writing.

“To be clear, there are no job losses as a result of this change.

“There are many large, successful universities, including, for example the University of Cambridge, which offer a single route into the breadth of an English degree.

“It reflects our commitment to continuously update and improve our provision to provide the best possible learning offer for our students.”

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